Updated: Nov 12
Many colleagues and friends in the massage and bodywork community all over the U.S. and Canada were very angry about this article as it had misrepresented biblical scripture and other issues. It was met with a lot of public resistance from the Christian massage therapist community for a variety of biblically sound reasons, and further, the lack of research, setup, and delivery was found to be lazily written, sending a dangerous message that praying and laying hands on others in Church was somehow similar to energy work and esoteric practices common in the world of massage and bodywork that are more oriented towards New Ageism and witchcraft. I decided the best way I could address this was to write a paper discussing the various things wrong with the article and submit a well-supported argument as to why the article was unsuccessful with suggestions for future articles. I did not think anything would come of it, but oh well, I sent it regardless with no real goal of the matter.
Little did I know, that a couple of months later I would receive a message in my Instagram DM's from a massage therapist in North Carolina. It was 4 am and she commented that she loved my article (it was just a short condensed version of my original 12 page research letter). After an amazing one-hour-long back-and-forth dialogue, she offered to mail me her copy of her magazine as I did not even have a subscription to it.
Below I have for you the full letter that was sent (with some modifications for understanding and typo corrections) rebutting the best way I could, why energy work and 'laying of hands' are not compatible in any way. I hope this is helpful to any massage therapist looking for understanding in the matter.
My name is Christina Acosta. I am an MT from Sacramento California and have been in private
practice for 13 years. I am writing to you as a response to an article I read dated December 26, 2018, in Massage Magazine online entitled, “The Christian Energy Work of ‘Laying on Of Hands.’ ”
Massage Magazine has been a big part of my education and career and I thank you for the great resource it has been in the field of Massage and Bodywork for so long. I also would like to give a big thanks for the mention of Christian Massage Therapists. I have seen in my career time again how Christians are shunned, disrespected, and often disregarded.
I was a new-age practitioner, a “white witch” and involved in the occult. Three years ago I rejected my previous practices and faith points, have repented, and been baptized as a follower of Jesus Christ. This decision was based on personal and traumatic experiences from reiki, yoga, chakra balancing, and even demonic oppression. This was also based on my conviction of the Bible as I began to read it, where I found consistency and truth. I have in the last two years been living life and working professionally with a new perspective. Given my background, I believe I can help gain some insight on some things that were shared in this article that are either false or fully misrepresenting very key things. This is important because these false points potentially could derail another person’s growth.
Since this article is all over the internet, Massage Magazine has a responsibility to be fair and share the truth. I need to address various matters with you. For one, “The Laying of Hands” or any other form of ‘healing modality’ is not present in the Jewish or Christian cultures as medicinal or therapeutic practices. It is seen as a physical element of prayer. It isn’t in our bible, it isn’t in our churches. What we practice is bible study, prayer, worship and praise, fasting, speaking in tongues (depending on the theology of given churches), and at times, prophesy, and so much more. Secondly, it was evident that the writer did not do research into this matter with the bible. Interviews were conducted, instead.
In those sources, I found various flaws that prove the sources were giving information that was
Unbiblical. Thirdly, there was no defining groundwork for what energy work is, or prayer, or any of that matter. The intent to walk on top of the water and comment from the outside understanding of Christian values as it pertains to ‘energy work’ and ‘spiritual healing’, as mentioned in this article, was merely a blind and pitiful attempt to throw pebbles into a massive lake of unexplored waters. What an insult it was to those who practice this faith within our own Massage and Bodywork Industry! Even worse, what a slap in the face to the faith, itself. I can gratefully say that when you throw pebbles into a lake, you cause waves and ripples that keep going, and sometimes grow. Here is a ripple that I hope leaves a positive impact.
THE IMPORTANCE OF QUOTING SCRIPTURE
The reason we are to quote scripture when discussing biblical matters is that the Bible is known as the 'Word of God'. John 1:1 even mentions this, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” I have been taught to be leery of false doctrine, which in the two years of my personal faith walk, I’ve seen over and over again in churches or sermons I may casually find on YouTube, for instance. Details VERY OFTEN get twisted either intentionally, or unintentionally. It is wise to always ask, or look for scripture when dealing with Judeo-Christian concepts and interview someone (ideally more than just one or two, for consistency) who is an authority in understanding its context. ["Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened for you. For everyone who asks, receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8] [“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 2:16]
WHAT IS THE LAYING OF HANDS?
“The Laying of Hands” is not considered energy work no matter what theology or doctrine within the faith you’re looking at. The ancient Hebrews did not talk about "energy work" and in my studies, I have yet to see anything scholarly regarding these terms in Aramaic Hebrew or in Ancient Greek, which are the languages referenced when studying the root of words in biblical studies. This requires a large bible study, particularly, what we call a "word study". Pastors, teachers, and professors have argued over various details regarding this for centuries. You cannot explain this in a simple article with no Biblical, or Classical Era sources, or even without mentioning a study on Judeo-Christian culture and language studies (Paleo Hebrew, Ancient Aramaic Hebrew, and Ancient Greek, to be specific). There was hardly any research done for the purposes of the article. This leaves way too much room for personal interpretation.
SOURCED CHRISTIAN INTERVIEWS
The article cited sources of massage therapists who also identify as “Christian.” This needs to be kept in mind, many people casually identify as Christians, yet do not read their own bible or take it seriously, attend church, believe in the Salvation of Faith in Jesus Christ (which is the pinnacle. of our faith), or allow themselves to be challenged in theological discussion. This is often the fruit of what we call "lukewarm" which scripture warns us of in Revelation 3:15-15. Many don’t bother praying to God or thanking Jesus at all, or at the least, only when they want something from God. Even worse, many Christians have a reputation for being judgmental, cruel, and “Bible bashing”. To which, is not a true representation of our faith. The Gospel of Jesus is about perfect love. There are many out there who twist scripture for their own gain, so having sources that are well-versed is vital...
THE LAYING OF HANDS IS NOT A MASSAGE MODALITY
The Christian sources mentioned in this article did not quote scripture except for one individual, and they ONLY REFERENCED ONE. Further, there was no mention of praise and worship, repentance, or even forgiveness (which are vital where God is being petitioned for healing), very little about prayer, or how they perform this “laying of hands.” Are we saying put your hands on someone and pray, and that’s it? This “modality" was not described. Further, it isn’t a modality at all. For Christians, this is our lifestyle, our daily ministries. Some have a ‘workplace ministry.’ It’s a special anointing, as I’ve heard it mentioned by many teachers and in church. Further, and probably most importantly, prayer is not what heals. God is who heals, by means of the Holy Spirit, as it pertains to His will (break that understanding down into three parts and really think about it.) When we pray we come into an agreement with His will and if the healing is to happen then and there, it will. However, one of God’s greatest gifts to man is His timing, not ours. We cannot WILL health over someone. That is the intended manipulation of circumstances or the atmosphere without praying to God for His intercession from our prayers. This is inherently witchcraft, as in, 'doing it yourself' when it comes to outcomes. Further, [“he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit Habakkuk because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” Romans 8:27] “For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.” Habakuk 2:3] [“To everything [there is a] season and a time to every purpose under heaven...” Ecclesiastes 3:1]
THE HOLY SPIRIT VS. “LIFE FORCE ENERGY”
The Holy Spirit is not an emotionally benign energy of the universe that can be tapped into or bent to your will. [look up the “characteristics of the Holy Spirit” for further study.] This is a New Age and “modern spirituality” doctrine that revolves around universalism but stems from Eastern theologies from India to Japan and the like. If you’re going to compare Reiki’s “Life force energy” concept to what Christianity and Judaism refer to as the Holy Spirit, then you have to put a magnifying glass on the differences between these doctrines. In reiki, it is a force to be tapped into and the practitioner is responsible for the healing as a conduit with the intent of “activating” the energy.
In the ancient Aramaic Hebrew, the Holy Spirit is specifically called the “Ruach HaKodesh” which means “Dedicated Spirit” of “Elohim” which means “Mighty One’s” (ref: Father, Son, Holy Spirit) to which all healing power, and majesty, and the action of God's will show Himself without man tampering or controlling it. The Holy Spirit, which provided the healing miracles through faith in Jesus as the Messiah, cannot be harnessed by human beings. Reiki and Chakra Balancing professionals claim to tap into healing, but rather, they intend to encourage or cause the healing by their will. It is not possible, as it is the Holy Spirit who heals at the anointed and appointment time.
Again, I have never seen a scripture or read an article, a book, or listened to a lecture, or sermon that says the “Laying of Hands” was a modality. Now from a personal perspective, I can say that I’ve had a discussion with my husband when my faith changed and I wanted to understand why sometimes we hold hands or lay hands on one another in prayer. My husband led me to this scripture, “When two or three gather together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” This is from Matthew 18:20 in which the Apostle Matthew is quoting Jesus Christ of Nazareth himself. I thought, “Okay, so, when a minimum of two people gather for the purpose of prayer, or coming into agreement, He is with us.” That partially answered my question. Then I began to look back at my many experiences in my career and personal life. Touch is as simple as a conduit of electrical impulses that stimulates the clients’ body to relax. The brain receives communication and it communicates right back to the body for a physical response. At the very least, the laying of hands is at minimum a point of contact that allows the receiver to feel the other person, whether in prayer or intentionally using their own resources and wits to provide healing. However, if you are a conduit, what is going through you? Do you believe it is “Life Force Energy?” No one has ever proved this actually to exist. If life force energy is real, we should be able to identify it scientifically. However, there are various accounts of the strength and power of the Holy Spirit healing individuals for thousands of years. Look at the Book of Acts in its entirety, for instance, in conjunction with thousands of testimonies of individuals who today claim they encountered the power of our almighty Father (Father, Son, Holy Spirit).
The concept of the modern Life Force Energy notion used in the “reiki” session is less than 100 years old. However, the Holy Spirit has been talked about and written about for at least 6,000 years [if we look at biblical dates of the creation of all, it would be as far back as Chapter One in Genesis where we see mention of the Spirit. Ref: Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”] If you don’t believe in biblical creationism, then let’s pretend that number is GREATER than 6,000 years. But that still brings me back. tomy point, that the notion of "Reiki" and 'life force energy' is less than 100 years old. Ancient Aramaic Hebrew, Ancient Greek, and Latin are very reliable and specific in their definitions and word roots. Hence, I would trust those ancient writings discussing the nature and acts of the Holy Spirit far more trustworthy than modern descriptions first, over something as modern as this. The second interview presented in the article was conducted with an LMT named Ritisha Hall, who mentioned she had a dream (and she interpreted her dream) as her healing people in the “anatomical sense” as well as a “Spiritual.” However, this is against scripture because a human is not granted the gift of spiritual healing unless it was the disciples after Jesus ascends to the heavens in the book of Acts. But, we are a tool for the Holy Spirit to use us for His work, either through our body or through our placement in our day-to-day life with appointments where we are able to assist others as it pertains to His will (I recommend looking up “The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit” for more on this). In the New Testament, we see that Jesus healed by touch and at times, bycast just proclaiming that it was done, and I recall a story in which a woman had so much faith that she knew if she just touched the hem of his garment, she would be healed, and she was instantaneously healed and Jesus told her that her faith in Him is what healed her [Reference: Mark 5:21-43 and Luke 8:40-56]. There is no mention of universal life energy or reiki, by the way. These are just some of the many stories of His healing miracles as shared by various voices of those who walked with Jesus himself. We have the opportunity to see from the many testimonies in the Bible and even books kept out of the final collection of the Bible itself, that not only did Jesus provide healing by the power of the Holy Spirit according to the Will of God. He also casted out demons and provided miracle upon miracle. Generally, through the laying of hands, as I’ve seen for myself, not just read about, healing comes from Elohim (Father, Son, Holy Spirit, aka “The Mighty Ones) when we pray for healing in Jesus’ Name. [Reference: "Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” Acts 4:30. Acts 3:16 and Acts 10:38 for more scripture references.]
THE BODYWORK WORLD FAVORS EASTERN THEOLOGY THROUGH ITS EDUCATION
The modern notion of energy work, which in the Massage Profession, gets thrown around a lot with various methodologies including Chakra Balancing, Reiki, Tantric Healing, Crystal Healing, etc. Massage schools that offer this training not only seem to find them helpful and viable, relaxing, or benign. I don't see why. Think about it, we went to massage school to learn about massage therapy. Why are we including all these esoteric practices?
I am personally familiar with this because there was a length of time that I practiced these things as well and I had good, benign, and negative experiences in total. But, no one is able to understand or discuss the Judeo-Christian forms of healing in the massage world because it would be considered “religious” and our current culture tends to abhor anything to do with righteousness, sin, Church, Jesus, and the like. However, a lot of these forms of “energy work” or “energy healing” and alternative healing in general, aside from massage do, in fact, come from elements of Religions in the Eastern World. I find this to be fully hypocritical of massage schools who say they do not delve into religion but yet offer education in these modalities, in fact, with an infusion of eastern spirituality in many classes, INCLUDING what I have witnessed in Healing Arts Institute at their graduation ceremonies in my home town. It is impractical at best, especially without complete, full, and deeply researched disclosures of origin. I ask the community to really consider this mass hypocrisy and the indoctrination of esoteric practices to take the place of therapeutics and bodywork out of sheer laziness and "saving your hands".
CHRISTIANITY CAN NOT ALIGN WITH REIKI CONCEPTS OR PRACTICES
What is concerning is the misrepresentation of Christian values when discussing the notion of 'Laying of Hands'. In the article in question, I noticed there is mention of “an ordained minister” in the Christian Church in Portland, Oregon who is also a reiki master. This is beyond asinine. They should have their title stripped as they are not practicing according to the faith. Christians who actually study their bible, BELIEVE in it, and KNOW that idolatry, divination, speaking with spirits, and so on are against God and are considered witchcraft. Witchcraft in the Bible is a rebellion against God. In the Christian Faith and our Bible, we are shown in scripture that God does not honor witchcraft because it is a use of your own devices to have your will produced and not in collaboration with Him. The specific definition of “rebellion” and “witchcraft” itself I have been researching for months. This requires a language study. The bottom line, using “your own means” when it comes to the spirit or soul, instead of petitioning God or aligning yourself with His will, is a basic understanding of the broad umbrella of ‘witchcraft’ [Ref. Deuteronomy 18:12 “When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD; because of these same detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you.”] Reiki does not align with Christian doctrine because it was produced when Dr. Usui in Japan in the early 20th century, who grew up in a Buddhist monastery, had an “enlightening” experience [reference: “enlightenment” correlates to satanic or illuminati vocabulary as well as Yoga, and New Ageism]. This information can be found on the www.reiki.org website. The experience led to the creation of this “modality” using concepts that are connected to Buddhism. This in no way has any connection to the history, practice, doctrine, or culture of Christianity. I am not arguing that Reiki does not have any force or does not work. What I am saying has NOTHING to do with Christianity, no matter how it is repackaged in our health and wellness culture to make the masses believe so. So why in the world do some Christians practice reiki and think that it's perfectly acceptable and further, that God approves of it? I believe it is because it is ‘attractive’ and may give a massage therapist or any other person the sense they are doing something good. Perhaps it is a “hands off” modality of healing that allows massage therapists to not break their backs. Regardless of how someone might feel about it, good or bad, it is STILL not biblical. The body of Christ does NOT acknowledge the belief that reiki, yoga, witchcraft, chakra balancing, etc. They are considered counterfeit sources of healing coming from an evil place with a hidden and silent agenda. Again, I am not making the argument of is energy work of any kind positive or evil, but I make clear that Christianity has nothing to do with anything that allows you to make yourself believe you have the control to heal someone’s spirit, which would be considered a form of self idolatry and is considered sinful. I thank the author of the article, as I get the sense they desired to find what they thought were valuable sources of Christian understanding in conjunction with the idea of energy work. However, I have to tell you that Christians who do reiki, chakra balancing, pranic healing, or yoga (worship of
the Sun God, and provable), etc, are often corrected in church as it is shown obviously through many scriptures that tell us so. Look at Isaiah 8:19-22, Galatians 5:19-21, and Deuteronomy 18:10-14 to name a few that make it clear to have nothing to do with these practices. Further, energy healing is measured by what exactly? I attribute it to feeling good, by not feeling
physical or emotional pain. That would be the proof. However, I have seen no case study testing how reiki, chakras, or pranic healing, etc. have results that test the elements of true healing of the soul by comparing the individual and complex lives, hearts, and emotions of people involved in such potential case studies. Then, compare the results to the fruit of the Holy Spirit, as mentioned previously. Can we really, in our secular world tied with a supernatural ribbon, really measure up and prove someone to be completely healed of the soul outside of these elements? What are the standards in which we judge the validity of ‘energy healing’ in the first place?
I think consent should be an article all on its own because it is a fantastic subject. I am beyond
grateful it was mentioned in the article. It is my opinion based on experience that, generally, only
Christians committed to learning and being challenged by the Bible can truly tell you how important it is to not lay hands on just anyone and to not let just anyone put their hands on you. By a “serious Christian” I mean a believer of the faith who understands the depth of praise, prayer, worship, anointing, scriptures, repentance, forgiveness, but most importantly faith in the power and authority of Jesus Christ. Faith that can “move mountains” and practice it [Matthew 17:20], where their walk with God is repentant in lifestyle while bearing fruits of the Spirit. Widener, interviewed in the article thankfully seems to have some ethical and Biblical understanding of consent, with the only verse mentioned in the entire article being 1 Timothy 5:22.
THE PROBLEM WITH THE COMMON MASSAGE PRACTICE OF “GROUNDING”
In our massage culture, we are taught in many massage schools to “ground” the client. This is also technically against Christian teachings, as it is a Hindu-Buddhist-New Age-Wicca-Universalism concept. Christians typically do not believe in grounding in the earth, but we believe in wearing the “full armor of God” and holding tight to our faith. Secondly, to “ground” a client who may be a Christian, well, maybe they’d not like that if they knew what it really was. Informed consent should be practiced. In the digital article, I read the comments at the bottom. I participated a few times myself on the thread and noticed many people who opposed these thoughts on consent were missing the point. Clients deserve to be respected and we need to honor their consent or lack of consent regardless of how we look at it. Leave the judgment of opinions at the door, do your job, and give a kick-butt massage service, all while respecting your client. So, thank you for bringing consent up and I hope to see more articles on that again.
WHAT IT'S LIKE FOR A CHRISTIAN MASSAGE THERAPIST IN A SEA OF NEW AGE PRACTICING BODYWORKERS?
I can tell you this topic would make an awesome article. I have had many discussions with various Christian massage therapists across the nation through means of the internet and the conversations were some of the most refreshing, deep, and valuable conversations I’ve ever had. I can tell you one thing, most keep their mouths shut and hide in the shadows. They don’t want to be ostracized. They don’t want to participate in things that are considered “harmless”, only to be treated negatively and be judged for it amongst their professional peers. I’m personally sick to death of it and don’t generally let other massage therapists get too close to me for that reason. It’s lonely, but I’ve found it worthwhile. Christian Massage Therapists want to practice their faith and connect with other colleagues of the same faith. They want to not have modern spiritualism and universalist concepts shoved down their throats at spa and massage clinics or massage schools. If they want to step aside and not involve themselves in classes, workshops, or class-time practices that don’t align with the faith, they would like to be just as respected as their peers. It’s that simple. Most hide in the shadows-- until they are drawn out. Do you know how I know? Because I have a testimony. Testimonies always draw people out of hiding. This is what happened when I publicly shared my dark past. However, I’ll mention that it’s disturbing that out of the four massage schools I’ve taken classes at, 2 out of 4 of them REQUIRED students to be enrolled in ‘energy healing’ classes such as Reiki.
I have come in contact with hundreds of testimonies of people rejecting energy work of various
forms, and even yoga, because of experiences that they did not want to experience ever again. This is also a great subject I recommend everyone look into, from a Christian perspective specifically. The Second Coming of the New Age is a new book by Steven Bancarz (a previous New Age authority turned Christian) and Josh Peck. They break apart these things and prove why. I highly recommend following them and the interviews they perform with other authorities on this subject to understand more about why Energy Work is questionable as far as safety.
Personally, I have my own testimony on my Youtube Channel, “Jungle and Grace”, in a 5 part series. Part of my testimony includes my discovery of hundreds of ex-practitioners of Reiki, etc who’ve become Christian, who have similar testimonies to mine, and experienced supernatural evil. I have gotten into the practice of the following, and I truly encourage you, and others to do the same: to look for the evidence, and look for consistency in testimonies, both for AND against an idea. The truth always lies in the middle.
Trying to convince someone that the Bible is valid is not my point and HAS not been my point through this novel of a letter. I don’t want to put you through a theological debate. My point is that the Christian Faith and Biblical Doctrine were misrepresented greatly in this article. I wanted to share that with you, and WHY, as I mentioned at the beginning of my letter, so as to not derail others by letting this pass by as just an ignorant article.
I write this letter in love. I believe that a very important door has been opened in a positive direction. Even though I find this article unsuccessful and, in no light way to put this, but disrespectful due to laziness and ignorance, utilizing untrustworthy sources, and lack of scripture or depth...the fact is that the door was opened and these conversations can start to
happen. For that I am grateful.
Thank you so much for your time and for considering my letter. Should you like to reach me, my contact information is below.
With full sincerity,
Well, there you have it ladies. and gents That is the full response to my letter to the editor that I wrote in December of 2018.
If you are curious about my walk in faith from witchcraft to follower of Jesus Christ, here is my testimony video for you.
If you are walking in new agism and witchcraft and you would like to have a conversation with me further about these practices or whatever else concerns, you are welcome to reach out to me by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.